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article imageFake social media accounts are now allowed to check on immigrants

By Karen Graham     Aug 31, 2019 in Internet
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers can now create fake social media accounts to monitor social media information on foreigners seeking visas, green cards, and citizenship.
An updated Homeland Security Department review of potential privacy issues dated July 2019 was posted online on Friday. The DHS review basically reversed a ban on officers creating fake social media accounts, reports CTV News Canada.
In a statement, the USCIS explained that the fake accounts and identities will make it easier for investigators to search for potential evidence of fraud or security concerns when deciding to allow someone into the country.
This latest tightening of the immigration rules was preceded by steps taken by the State Department in June this year, which began requiring applicants for U.S. visas to submit their social media usernames.
Many people are calling these latest moves nothing more than a vast expansion of the Trump administration's enhanced screening of potential immigrants and visitors. However, it is also another sign of Trump's isolationism.
Facebook and Twitter have removed accounts used in an Iran-based social media campaign aimed at sway...
Facebook and Twitter have removed accounts used in an Iran-based social media campaign aimed at swaying public opinion
NICOLAS ASFOURI, Lionel BONAVENTURE, AFP
These new rules throw a wrench into the immigration process right when the competition for highly-skilled talent is at an all-time high. According to data from the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development, the U.S. is no longer the top-ranked destination for highly skilled workers or entrepreneurs.
Social media policies at risk
Pretending to be someone other than yourself violates the terms of use of platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which are very specific about creating fake accounts.
According to ABC News, Twitter and Facebook recently shut down numerous accounts believed to be operated by the Chinese government using their platforms under false identities for information operations.
For months  Twitter has sought to eliminate automated and bogus accounts designed to manipulate the ...
For months, Twitter has sought to eliminate automated and bogus accounts designed to manipulate the public conversation
JOSH EDELSON, AFP/File
"It is against our policies to use fake personae and to use Twitter data for persistent surveillance of individuals. We look forward to understanding USCIS's proposed practices to determine whether they are consistent with our terms of service," according to a Twitter statement, reports PBS.org.
Dave Maass, senior investigative researcher for the civil liberties advocacy group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said such use of fake accounts “undermines our trust in social media companies and our ability to communicate and organize and stay in touch with people.”
He added: “It can’t be this double standard where police can do it, but members of the general public can’t.” It still leaves one glaring question - What in the world is this country coming to, when our own government is allowed to peek into our online interests? Privacy is becoming a distant memory.
More about Department of Homeland Security, social media accounts, fake accounts, violation of terms of use, State department
 
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